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Academic Coaching & Writing

IX. Crafting and Submitting the Journal Article

Jun 26, 2012 by Amy Kiste Nyberg

Preparing a journal article from your dissertation involves more than simply cutting and pasting. To effectively “repurpose” your research, pay close attention to the writing style, organization, and length of articles in your target journal.

Use the same document structure and level of terminology as other authors in the journal. The biggest change will be in your literature review. This may seem obvious, but be sure to include only those works from your literature review that relate specifically to your proposed article. Cite studies that provide a foundation for your work, and cite research you challenge through your findings. While some dissertation committees want to see a comprehensive list of references, journal editors want only those citations referenced in the article.

Other academics and scholars are a journal’s target audience. You are writing for your peers, so you can assume a certain understanding of concepts, theories, and terminology specific to the discipline. Remember that unlike in your dissertation, you are not writing to prove your mastery of research methods and their application to an original research question or problem. Instead, you are sharing knowledge you have generated that will interest others in the field. Write with confidence!

Once you have revised and polished your article,  format your manuscript to the journal’s specifications. Journals editors are inundated with submissions. A manuscript that will require reformatting will most likely go to the bottom of the queue, or be rejected outright. Review the journal’s guidelines for authors and its submission requirements. For example, Sage publishes a number of journals in different disciplines. It offers general guidelines through its Journal Author Gateway, which is where authors also can find submission guidelines.

The requirements may include the following:

  • Style manual. Most social science and business journals use the American Psychological Association (APA) style guide for manuscripts and references. If you are lucky, you used the same style manual for your dissertation as that required by the journal. If not, there are software programs that will convert citations for you (but be sure to double-check the conversions).
  • Page limits. Journals set an upper limit for the number of pages for a manuscript, usually between 25 and 30 pages. The page count may exclude figures, tables, references, and notes.
  • Abstract and key words. Most journals ask for an abstract, and the length can range from 100 words to 250 words. A journal abstract typically provides the research question(s), the methodology, and the findings. Look at examples from other articles in the journal. Key words are essential in leading other researchers to your work when they search databases.
  • Specifications for figures, illustrations, and tables. Journals usually ask for separate files for non-textual material. Follow the requirements for format, such as file type, image resolution, and size. Some journals require “camera-ready” illustrations with the submission; other journals will request publishable images and tables only if they accept your manuscript for publication.
  • Submission. A blind review of your manuscript means that the editor sends your manuscript to reviewers without identifying you as the author. Journal submission guidelines may request that you remove the title page, header, and any text that may reference you and your university. Provide complete contact information and any other background the journal requires, such as an author biography.

Finally, protocol requires that, unless otherwise indicated, do not submit your article to more than one journal at a time. In the final blog entry of this series, you will learn what to expect when you hear back from a journal’s editor.

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